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What is the difference between electrical and computer engineering?

I am a senior in high school and I have applied to college as an undecided engineering major. I have found some interest in electrical engineering but the more I research electrical engineering the more I start to realize that computer engineering is pretty similar. I know that there are differences between the two but I'm still a little confused. #engineering #electrical-engineering #computer-engineering #college

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John’s Answer

Engineering is considered to be one of the top careers in the next decade. Engineering is a broad term that covers a wide range of applications and industries. Combining mathematics, science and technology, engineers produce creative solutions to real world problems. As a result there are many different types of engineering degrees available.

Engineering specializations are wide-reaching, so narrowing down the branches to choose your perfect match is a tall order Rachel. All engineering disciplines involve some form of technical design and problem-solving to solve a real-world issue for safer, easier everyday life.


ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING DEGREE – Involves the study of energy. Energy is available in various forms such as electrical, hydro and natural sources such as wind and solar energy. Electrical Engineers design components for electronic equipment, communications systems, power grids, automobiles, and more. Electronics engineering will a bachelor's degree in engineering.
BACHELOR'S DEGREE – The most common engineering degrees awarded are in mechanical, electrical, electronics and civil engineering.

COMPUTER ENGINEERING DEGREE – Computer engineers create and maintain computer systems and may specialize in one aspect of computer engineering, such as hardware or software engineering. Hardware engineers design computer circuitry, disks, chips, printers and other computer devices, while computer software engineers develop computer applications and programs. Good math and analytical skills are necessary for students interested in a career in computer engineering.
BACHELOR'S DEGREE – The most common engineering degrees awarded are in Hardware, Software and Computer Engineering Technology.


MECHANICAL ENGINEERING DEGREE – Involves the design of mechanical systems. These systems assist industries such as: manufacturing, aeronautics, nanotechnology, nuclear power production, heating and cooling. A primary focus is on thermodynamics, structural analysis, materials science, and kinematics. This is arguably the broadest of all engineering degrees available today and takes in a wide range of engineering disciplines. BACHELOR'S DEGREE – The most common engineering degrees awarded are in Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics and Civil engineering.

ELECTRONICS ENGINEERING DEGREE – Electronics have changed the way most of the world lives every day. From the revolutionary computer to the latest mobile phone technology that fits in your pocket, we all use electronics every single day. Electronics engineers are needed to design and build electronic equipment. Most electronics engineers work with circuits, switchboards, and other electronic configurations to design and build these devices.
BACHELOR'S DEGREE – The most common engineering degrees awarded are in Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics and Civil engineering.

MECHATRONICS ENGINEERING DEGREE – A blend of mechanical engineering and electronics engineering, Mechatronics Engineering, is an emerging area for hybrid engineers. Nearly all mechanical equipment in this day and age is operated with a mix of electronics and software, all based on computers and technology. Mechatronics engineers help bridge that gap, and have intrinsic knowledge of electrical, electronics, and mechanical engineering. Some more experienced Mechatronics Engineers also have computer, hardware, and software engineering experience as well.
BACHELOR'S DEGREE – A Bachelor of Science degree in Mechatronic Engineering is required.

CIVIL ENGINEERING DEGREE – Civil engineering helps to erect buildings and plan cities with utmost organization and communal benefit. Bachelor's degrees in this field prepare students for careers as professional engineers and often offer students the option to pursue concentrations in environmental, structural, transportation or water resources engineering.
BACHELOR'S DEGREE – A Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering is required.

Hope this was Helpful Rachel

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Herman’s Answer

I'll just add a few more points here to build on the above answer:

1) In many universities, the early years of electrical and computer engineering will have near identical curricula (this was the case at my alma mater). Therefore, in many instances, you'll be able to "delay" your decision between the two since schools sometimes make it easy to switch between them up until ~3rd year

2) You should be able to look up the course offerings in both departments at the schools you're interested in to get a sense for what different things you'll be learning in each. Likewise, each department will have a listing of research areas, which can also provide insight into some key functional differences

3) Finally, in terms of employment, as a general observation, computer engineering (and particularly software engineering) has more robust prospects right now. Some of the most innovative and hottest fields nowadays touch computer engineering , including: software, robotics, machine learning, automation, cybersecurity, etc.

To follow up on 3) you can also get a degree in electrical engineering and work as a software engineer. Herman is completely correct in his statement that there are many prospects right now in the realm of software engineering. Ayshka Rodriguez

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pushpa’s Answer

Electrical engineering and computer science degrees differ in many ways, and understanding the defining characteristics of each choice will help you make the right decision.

Electrical Engineering- Electrical engineers design and develop electrical equipment, test their designs and oversee the manufacture of the equipment they have invented.Electronics have changed the way most of the world lives every day. From the revolutionary computer to the latest mobile phone technology that fits in your pocket, we all use electronics every single day.

Computer Engineering – Computer engineers may produce computer equipment, components, applications, software or networks. Whether they're working on hardware or software or networking systems, their objective is to enable the computers to function effectively. With extensive experience in their field they can consider pursuing advancement to a role as a computer and information systems manager, but a master's degree in business administration or a similar discipline may also be required. They may work in fields as varied as manufacturing, finance and research, depending on their area of specialization, and typically spend most of their time working in an office.

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Matthew’s Answer

I studied Computer Engineering and had many friends in Electrical Engineering.

I think the biggest difference is the software side. Computer Engineering will dive into coding and computer science classes as well as focus on the bridge between hardware and software. The Electrical Engineering type classes you take as a Computer Engineer are fairly general and there are only a few upper division classes you will have to take. Also, theses electrical engineering type classes will most likely be tied specifically to computers rather than electrical things in general.

Electrical Engineering on the other hand will have maybe one to two basic coding/computer science related classes and instead will heavily focus on the different concepts within Electrical Engineering. Often these classes include a lot of labs.

To help decide between the two, I would say if you want to work with anything computer related (software/programming, developing computer components, robotics, etc.) or if you have an interested in computer related technologies but aren't entirely sure then choose Computer Engineering. There is a lot of overlap between the two so it would be pretty easy to switch from computer engineering to Electrical Engineering. On the other hand, if you are more interested in more of the Electrical Engineering topics (maybe related to power or energy) then stick with EE. I would say it still is fairly easy to switch from Electrical Engineering to Computer Engineering but it will be slightly more difficult than the other way around.

P.S. from my experience, Computer Engineering = 40% Electrical Engineering, 40% Computer Science, and 20% Actual Computer Engineering specific classes (which usually are the bridge between hardware and software)

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Poojitha’s Answer

Computer engineering is a combination of software and hardware; however, electrical engineering is more focused on circuits/signals and processing. Keep in mind that colleges vary in the majors that they offer - some programs may be combined so be sure to look into what your school offers as well.

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Supreethkumar’s Answer

Electrical engineering is all about circuits and boards. This is where you learn about how to build a basic circuit to a complex circuit.

Computer engineering is all about a human and machine interface. You learn to operate machines which helps to solve complex problems.